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Paris Commemorates Anniversary Of 'Charlie Hebdo' Attacks


2015 was a dark year for the city of Paris, with two major terrorist attacks that claimed a total of nearly 150 lives. Today, French President Francois Hollande marked the anniversary of the first of those attacks. He unveiled commemorative plaques at the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and at the kosher supermarket that was also attacked a year ago. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sent this report from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Last January, two heavily armed men entered the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and murdered 11 people.

The first plaque was unveiled there.

Journalists were kept back as the French president observed a moment of silence with family and close friends of the victims. Hollande then walked a few hundred feet to unveil another plaque where Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet was gunned down by the extremists. The mayor of the district, Francois Vauglin, says the country needs these memorials.

FRANCOIS VAUGLIN: (Through interpreter) After all the grief and mourning we've gone through, these public plaques are important to engrave these events into our collective memory.

BEARDSLEY: The third plaque was placed at a kosher supermarket where another gunmen murdered four members of Paris's Jewish community.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Hollande warned the French in his New Year's address that they would have to learn to live with the threat of terrorism. But after two major attacks in 2015, the government is scrambling to deal with the new reality. France is in an extended state of emergency, and there are 10,000 soldiers patrolling the streets across the country.

Retired Parisian Alain Thomas says the events in January were bad enough, but the November attacks on cafes and a concert hall made the French feel that everyone is a target.

ALAIN THOMAS: The first event was - the target was precise, but the second event was - everybody are concerned by this because it could be their child or their neighbors and anybody.

BEARDSLEY: Later this month, the French Parliament plans to modify the country's constitution to make it easier to extend the state of emergency, which gives police the ability to carry out raids without a warrant. Normally, such a curtailment of individual rights would've provoked an outcry. But such is the state of fear in France today there's been only limited opposition to the government's plans. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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